Que trail

Rich Maher, vice president of the Laurel Highlands On & Off Road Bicycling Association, takes a brief ride Wednesday on an extension trail to the Quemahoning Trail, a 17-mile bicycle trail around the Quemahoning Reservoir, designed specifically for mountain biking.

HOLLSOPPLE – Recreation enthusiasts and those who love the outdoors now have another destination in the area for mountain biking.

On Wednesday, several area agencies and community partners gathered for the grand opening of the Quemahoning Trail.

The 17-mile bicycle trail, which encircles the Quemahoning Reservoir, is the fifth area in the Laurel Highlands specifically designated for mountain biking.

“It’s a great day for anyone that enjoys outdoor recreation,” said Brad Clemenson, project manager for the Stonycreek-Quemahoning Initiative.

“It’s a phenomenal mountain bike trail that is going to bring mountain bikers, not just locally, but from multiple states around here.

“It’s just a great asset for the community that people are going to enjoy,” he said.

“You can walk it, you can run it, you can bike it, you can cross-country ski it, you can snowshoe it, etcetera.”

The Stonycreek-Quemahoning Initiative was among the more than a dozen organizations taking part in the grand opening of the first loop of the Quemahoning Trails.

It was noted during the ceremony that Community Foundation for the Alleghenies was the largest contributor to the project, which was funded by 27 grants and donations amounting to $132,175.

“We think trails make better communities and connect people in ways that are both literal and figurative, so we are delighted to be able to support this trail,” said Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ President and Executive Director Mike Kane during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Lisa Rager, executive director of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the project adds to the menu of many recreational activities now available throughout the region – thanks to the effort of numerous supporters.

“I definitely recognize the impact this has on Johnstown and Cambria County, because visitors don’t really think about the geopolitical boundaries that some of us all get caught up in,” Rager said. “So from that standpoint, yes, this is in Somerset County, but the impact on Johnstown and Cambria County is significant.

“And when you see that you have 14 biking destinations within an hour and a half of Johnstown, you can really look at Johnstown and the surrounding area as a real hub for people to have a tremendous variety of experiences on their bicycle, and even just doing the other things like camping and picnicking.”

The Quemahoning Trail was designed by Clark Fisher of FisherWorks Consulting.

Plans for phase two of the project are now being discussed.

The second phase will add secondary loops off the primary loop to provide a variety of trails for expert to novice riders.

“We know from our research findings that outdoor recreation is one of four main reasons visitors come to the Laurel Highlands,” said Ann Nemanic, executive director for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.

“We also know that biking is a key activity for thousands flocking to southwestern Pennsylvania.

“This exceptional Quemahoning Trail will quickly become a signature experience for spring, summer and fall riders,” she said. “This is an exciting day for our pedal pals.”

Ronald Fisher is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @FisherSince_82.